Yoko Ono's Life in Photos

The artist, musician and former wife of Beatles great John Lennon has lived an incredibly full life

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Yoko Ono's Early Years

Yoko Ono Avant-garde Artist And Widow Of John Lennon Pictured With Smoking A Cigarette
Fortune/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Yoko Ono was born on Feb. 18, 1933, in Tokyo, to artist parents. During World War II, she and her siblings relocated to the countryside, and she eventually found her way to New York City in the 1950s.

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Yoko Ono and John Lennon in 1969

John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono speak at a press conference, March 2, 1973, in New York
AP Photo

Ono's own budding art career took her around the globe, including to London, where she met Beatles musician John Lennon in 1966. The two had an instant connection, leading in part to Lennon's divorce from wife Cynthia in 1968.

Ono eventually drew ire from many fans of The Beatles, who believed her contant presence affected the band's music and eventual breakup. Overtime, public perception of Ono has changed, and Lennon's bandmates have spoken fondly of her.

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Yoko Ono and John Lennon in 1969

John Lennon (1940 - 1980), formerly of English rock band the Beatles, and his wife Yoko Ono pose on the steps of the Apple building in London with a poster reading 'War is Over! If you want it. Happy Christmas from John and Yoko', in protest against the Vietnam War, December 1969
Frank Barrett/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The pair were activists as much as artists, posing on the steps of the Apple building in London in 1969 with a sign reading, "War is over! If you want it. Happy Christmas from John and Yoko."

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Yoko Ono with John Lennon and His Son, Julian

John Lennon, a member of the Beatles, was entertained by another singing group 12/10 when he took his five-year-son, Julian, to the rehearsals of the "Rolling Stones Rock 'n' Roll Circus Show." Also accompanying Lennon was artist Yoko Onon (l). The show is scheduled to be a London television spectacular produced by the Rolling Stones
Bettmann Archive

Lennon had one son, Julian, with ex Cynthia. He was a teenager when his father died.

Speaking to PEOPLE after his dad's death, Julian said, "I learned quite a bit from observing what he went through, the good bits and the mistakes. I'd rather not think about the times when I didn't see him, and I hope I'll meet him up there for a drink or whatever when I disappear."

His happier memories were "just being with him and having fun ... wrestling on the floor—we were silly, over the top, mad in our different ways."

Following Lennon's death, Ono helped provide for Julian, who is also a musician.

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Yoko Ono and Her Daughter, Kyoko Chan Cox

Yoko Ono and Her Daughter Kyoko Chan Cox On Madison Avenue in NYC

Ono also had a child from a previous relationship, daughter Kyoko, who spent much of her early life with her father, Ono's first husband, Anthony Cox.

Though Kyoko told PEOPLE in 2003 that Lennon was always "nice to me," she described him as "this consuming force. He wanted all of my mom, and there wasn't a lot of her left for me."

After ultimately disappearing with her dad, Kyoko contacted her mother in 1994, after deciding to have children of her own. "When Kyoko appeared finally, I was totally in shock," Ono later told PEOPLE. "It felt like the part of me that was missing came back."

"Losing my daughter was a very serious pain," she added. "There was always some empty space in my heart."

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Yoko Ono and John Lennon Marry, 1969

John Lennon and his new bride Yoko Ono holding their marriage certificate after their marriage in Gibraltar. 20 March 1969
Yoko Ono and John Lennon in 1969. Daily Herald/Daily Herald/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Ono and Lennon married on March 20, 1969, in Gibraltar.

"When I fell in love with Yoko," Lennon once said, per a 1966 PEOPLE story, "I knew, my God, this is different from anything I've ever known ... This is more than a hit record, more than gold, more than everything."

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Yoko Ono and Her Son, Sean Lennon

Yoko Ono and her son, American musician and composer Sean Lennon, attend the 'Rock Opera' party, New York City, 1994
Rose Hartman/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Sean Lennon, the only child of Ono and Lennon, was born on Oct. 9, 1975.

"I see a lot of John in Sean," Ono told PEOPLE in 1982. "He's quick and snappy."

Speaking to PEOPLE in 1994, she added that one of her greatest accomplishments in life was that "Sean has grown up the way he has. There's satisfaction in thinking your judgement was right."

08 of 14

Yoko Ono and John Lennon in 1980

In this Aug. 22, 1980, file photo, John Lennon, right, and his wife, Yoko Ono, arrive at The Hit Factory, a recording studio in New York City
AP Photo/Steve Sands, File

On Dec. 8, 1980, Lennon was shot and killed outside his New York City apartment building. He was 40 years old.

"The doctor came and handed me things. I still didn't believe it. Then the doctor handed me John's wedding ring, and I knew," Ono told PEOPLE in 1990. "It was important that I give my permission to the hospital to announce John's death. But I couldn't bring myself to say yes right away. For that split second, I felt as though John would still be alive if his death was not announced."

"I still have dreams of John," she added. "His spirit is always with me."

09 of 14

George Harrison, Yoko Ono and Ringo Starr in 1988

The Beatles' George Harrison (left) and Ringo Starr (right) are inducted into the Third Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Michael E. Ach/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Ono helped represent The Beatles when the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Jan. 20, 1988, in New York City. McCartney missed the induction due to "business differences" with his former bandmates.

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Yoko Ono and Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney (C) holds up the hands of the late John Lennon's son Sean Lennon (L) and his wife Yoko Ono (R) Former Beatle Paul McCartney (C) holds up the hands of the late John Lennon's son Sean Lennon (L) and his wife Yoko Ono
DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

McCartney with Sean Lennon and Ono after John Lennon's solo induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

"There are many things Paul and I go through behind the scenes," Ono told PEOPLE in 2003 of the pair's storied relationship. "Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don't."

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Yoko Ono and Ringo Starr

Yoko Ono and Ringo Starr attend The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Special Merit Awards Ceremony
Todd Williamson/Invision/AP

Ono has also frequently reunited with Starr, like here at the 56th Grammy Awards special merit awards ceremony in 2014.

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Yoko Ono's 2005 Retrospective

Yoko Ono with the image "Portrait of Nora" at a retrospective exhibition at Passau, Germany, 2005
Wolfgang Kuhn/United Archives via Getty Images

In 2005, Ono was celerated in a retrospective exhibition in Passau, Germany, one of countless shows she's been involved with through the years.

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Yoko Ono Performing in 2011

Yoko Ono performs with the Plastic Ono Band at "Yoko Ono & Friends To Japan With Love" Yoko Ono hosts benefit concert for the Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Also a musician, Ono performed with her Plastic Ono Band at "Yoko Ono & Friends To Japan With Love" for earthquake relief in 2011.

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Yoko Ono Now

Yoko Ono introduces a special screening of 'GasLand' as part of the BFI Screen Epiphanies series at BFI Southbank
Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images

Speaking to PEOPLE in 2003, Ono mused that, "People think their world will get smaller as they get older. My experience is just the opposite. Your senses becomemore acute. You start to blossom."

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